Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Iceberg Tips

A bit of free time today, though perhaps one of the last instances of such in the very-near-future. I'd like to say I'm using it to bang out something excellent and noteworthy, but mostly I've been catching up on old emails and blogs and whatnot.

Also, I've spent a lot of time reading Mel Birnkrant's recounting of his years as "creative director" for Colorforms...a truly fascinating, fascinating look inside one of the bigger toy producers of the late 70s - early 80s. I spent a lot of time playing with Colorforms back in the day, often on long road trips prior to my learning how to read. My introduction to Spider-Man came about through Colorforms when I was three years old and flat-on-my-back in a body cast because of a broken leg.

Had this exact set as a child. Hours of fun!
ANYway, it's really interesting stuff (and a real suck-age of time, too). I can relate to a lot of his issues and frustrations as a designer...especially, his assertion that the toy biz is one of spotting icebergs...for every toy that gets produced, there are many more lurking below the surface of the water. I look at my own "To Do" list of games that are in partially produced stages and see the truth of this: my current count of unfinished "products" numbers...hmmm, let's see...seventeen.

[probably one of the reasons I don't bother entering competitions like Game Chef and the One Page Dungeon]

And that's just counting stuff that I've done some initial work/writing on. There's plenty of other ideas/concepts floating around in my head that haven't yet managed to make it to paper/computer. Maybe some day when I have a team or staff of people working for me and a lot of capital to throw around. Right now, I'm blessed to just live in a day and age that even allows self-publishing.

The history of toy/game manufacturing...or rather the big businesses we've come to recognize like Hasbro and Mattel...is quite fascinating, especially considering the slim profit margin in the industry and the financial missteps that have nearly sunk the biggest players. It's interesting how the Big Boys have benefitted the most...and managed to stay afloat...mainly due to expansion into overseas markets, outsourcing jobs to China, and acquiring other toy and game businesses (like WotC, Fischer-Price, Milton Bradley, Kenner, American Doll, Cranium, etc.).

But...well, now I'm starting to ramble. Let me get back to you when my head's a little more clear.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting the link to the Colorforms site. Amazing stuff. I found a set I used to have, the psychedelic 1978 Mickey Mouse Magic Glow Club House.